Ikoyi building collapse: Osibona threatened our officials with dogs, says LASBCA

The Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) on Friday told a coroner sitting in Ikeja that its officials were denied access to the site of the ill-fated 21-storey building under construction on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, which collapsed on November 1 last year.

 

LASBCA’s Assistant Director, Inspectorate of Quality Control, Mrs Oluseun Randle, told the coroner that the Managing Director of Fourscore Heights Ltd, the late Femi Osibona, who owned the ill-fated building, threatened to unleash vicious dogs on LASBCA officials who visited to inspect the project.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Randle told the coroner that she was the officer overseeing Eti-Osa, Victoria, Island, Surulere, Yaba, Lagos Mainland and Ikoyi, adding that one of LASBCA’s main mandates was to identify non-conforming buildings and mark them for removal.

 

While being cross-examined by counsel for Prowess Engineering Nigeria Ltd, Mr Ola Adeosun, Randle said, “An officer first visited on February 13, 2019. He peered through a small opening in the gate and observed piling equipment.

 

“He moved closer to observe the piling operation and to gain access to the premises. The security operatives manning the premises did not allow him entry.



“He was only asked to wait outside of the gate for the developer (Osibona). After some minutes, the developer came and the officer told him he wanted to serve a notice.

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“He (Osibona) told him that he could not go in and if tried to forcefully gain entry, he would tell the security to release dogs.

 

“The monitoring officer served a Contravention Notice and Stop Work Order dated February 13, 2019, on the structure. The notice and order was to be complied with within 48-hours,” she said.

 

The witness said the LASBCA officer returned to the site for the second time on February 21, 2019, and pasted a Seal Up Notice on the fence and left.

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On the second visit, she said the monitoring officer did not observe any construction work on the site except for the locked gate.

 

Mrs Randle said sometime in June 2019, LASBCA received a notification from a sister agency, the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), over a permit given to Fourscore Heights Ltd.

 

“The approval drawing was for three blocks of 15-floors. With that (the permit) LASBCA had a reprieve over the matter,” she said.



The LASBCA Assistant Director noted that for the rest of 2019, officers of the agency did not observe any construction work at the site except for the locked gate.

 

She said she did not know if it was possible for an individual to forge a LASBCA approval document. She also could not recall if a developer had ever forged LASBCA documents.

 

Questioning Mrs Randle further, Mr Adeosun said “As at (of) February 2020, two 15-storey structures were already standing on the site before the COVID-19 lockdown.

 

“The construction of the third building which was the one that collapsed was already at the third-floor stage. Would you be surprised?”

 

Responding, she said, “I will be surprised.”

Ikoyi building collapse: Osibona threatened our officials with dogs, says LASBCA

While being cross-examined by Ahmed Gbadamosi, a counsel to the family of Samuel Iwelu, one of the victims of the building collapse, the witness revealed that Mr Osibona was arrested on June 10, 2020.

 

“He was arrested alongside his wife and staff for contravening certification and planning laws.

 

“They were arrested by a joint enforcement team of LASCA and LASPPPA. The security men at the gate put up an attitude by resisting the team’s access to the property.

 

“He was found to be in contravention of the law,” she said.

 

On his enquiry about events that transpired after Mr Osibona’s arrest, Mrs Randle told Mr Gbadamosi to make his enquiry via correspondence to the General Manager of LABSCA.



Mr Gbadamosi noted that in Paragraph 27 of Mrs Randle’s Statement on Oath to the Coroner’s Court, she said Mr Osibona had continued construction on the property until it collapsed on November 1, 2021.

 

“Was this particular developer beyond the control of your agency, why was the developer who was arrested by the task force, taken to an unknown location by the police only to go back to continue developing the property? he asked.

 

Mrs Randle responded saying, “No developer is beyond LASBCA. The agency was not aware that he went back to the site.

 

“It was the report of the collapse of the 21-storey building that gave us an insight on the height and type of the structure at the time of the collapse.”

 

Responding to questions from Yusuf Lawan, the counsel to the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mrs Randle said LABSCA was unaware that Mr Osibona had returned to the construction site after his arrest.

 

“The monitoring officers were not going to the site because of the COVID-19 lockdown, then #EndSARS occurred.

 

“All our monitoring officers fell under the category of those asked to stay at home,” Mrs Randle stated.

 

One of the three high-rise buildings (Blocks A, B and C) which were situated on Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Block B (21-storeys) collapsed on November 1 killing 46 persons while 15 persons were rescued.

 

One of those who died in the tragedy was Mr Osibona, the Managing Director of Fourscore Heights Ltd., the contractor to the project.

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